Chocolate or music education
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 126 No 6, 3 September 2021, page no.16
Did you know that eating chocolate releases endorphins, which are the receptors in our brain that reduce pain and help promote a positive feeling in the body? The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa, which has been proven to cause the brain to release these feel-good emotions. But before you grab the next chocolate bar, have a little read of this!
Many people are not aware that singing and music education has the same outcome. In fact, singing can help tame stress and lift the spirits. Singing is a natural antidepressant, and according to current research, singing releases endorphins in the brain resulting in feelings of pleasure. The brain releases the stimulant oxytocin, which is a hormone that alleviates anxiety and stress. Would you believe singing releases more endorphins than eating chocolate? Who would have thought?
Well you may be sceptical, but this is a remarkable tool to use in our schools. I cannot see in the foreseeable future teachers getting permission to give chocolate every morning to children before they start their day, but with the extraordinary benefits of daily singing or music education at the beginning of each day, we may be able to create natural endorphins in our students’ brains. Experienced teachers have known for years that happy kids mean a happy classroom, which means improved learning outcomes!
Scientists have proven that music education and singing can have a calming yet energising effect on people. Singing can help tame stress, but also lift the spirits as it is a natural antidepressant. Students often report feeling happy and free of significant anxiety and notice their moods improving when they start to sing. This is particularly evident during choir rehearsals. With a huge increase of anxiety and stress in our students and the increased importance of mindfulness education in our schools, it appears we have an extraordinary device to assist in our students’ wellbeing.
Singing can also be a form of exercise that works the lungs and other parts of the body required to project one’s voice. Singing may lead to a stronger diaphragm and stimulation of circulation due to the greater amount of oxygen needed to carry a melody.
Teachers know that music is a dynamic and interactive subject. Quality music education in our schools will have a profound impact on all areas of a child’s life. As alluded to earlier, music develops neural pathways and enhances brain function. Brain imaging techniques and MRIs show us that music education tasks can activate all four lobes of the brain, as well as parts of the cerebellum. Music literally gets the whole brain working, which again makes it a marvellous tool to assist us in educating our students.
We know for a fact that music helps kids learn. It maximises student engagement and provides opportunities for students’ personal development, which is difficult to do in other subject areas. Music education is also valued enormously by parents and communities. We know that 90 per cent of Australian parents think that music is an essential part of a young child’s learning. Despite the crowded curriculum, our students’ parents want music education to continue on a regular basis in our schools.
Music education improves confidence and self-expression. It assists students to become creative, intelligent members of society, which is a global outcome that we can all agree on. Did you know that music directly fosters creativity, and this helps enhance music education as a powerful tool in enhancing health and wellbeing? By creating and performing through music education, students can promote positive self-confidence and improve the sense of identity and self-worth in their lives.
So, back to the chocolate! While I am a definite advocate of eating chocolate and releasing some happy endorphins in my body, I suggest that no matter what your musical ability, you can have the same outcome as your students through music education in your school. Try singing with your kids at the beginning of each day and you will be amazed by the results.